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Sue Bush
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MCLA Awarded $50K For Berkshire Compact

12:00AM / Friday, January 05, 2007

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts president Mary K. Grant [iberkshires file photo]
North Adams – The Nellie Mae Education Foundation has awarded a $50,000 grant to the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts to support the Berkshire Compact for Higher Education research initiatives.

Specifically, the grant will support compact efforts to identify the range of challenges and opportunities that exist within the educational system across the Berkshire region.

“We are proud to support the Berkshire Compact,"said Blenda Wilson, consultant and former president and CEO of the Nellie Mae Foundation. "The compact’s advocacy for improved education will help the citizens of the region create a thriving community and a robust economy."

Berkshire Compact for Higher Education Chairman Andy Mick termed the funding“fantastic,” and said that the money would help move the
process of the Compact forward.

“This is great news," said state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox. "In fact, it is testament to the good work that the Berkshire Compact has done, and another good reason for us to continue to see this project to fruition. The Berkshire Compact is crucial to improving access to higher education in our area and higher education is critical to the further development of
our economy.”

William P. Coan, superintendent of the Lenox Public Schools and chair of the Compact’s aspirations committee, said the grant would augment the ongoing efforts of the 14 public school districts and the Berkshire region institutions of higher education to work cooperatively to enhance learning for all students.

The Berkshire Compact formed in 2005 when a group of education, business, and political leaders from across the Berkshire region convened a group to assess the higher education needs of regional residents and employers and determine what opportunities exist to meet those needs.

“The hard work in the Compact initiative has yielded some exciting
results,” said former state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley, now Governor Deval Patrick’s new chief economic policy advisor. “This Nellie Mae grant gives us the ability to do the research necessary to advance the goals of the compact working groups. It also is a sign that Nellie Mae finds the work done so far as valuable in advancing new directions in education.”

According to MCLA President Mary K. Grant, “Communities across the
Commonwealth and the country are wrestling with very serious educational issues, including financing and delivery of education, population shifts, educational attainment levels, college and workforce readiness, and more. The support from Nellie Mae will help us to better understand the challenges we face at home, in the Berkshires. Working together, the compact members are addressing the hard issues of advancing long-term change, which is never easy and requires a longer-term perspective.”

For more information, go to http://compact.mcla.edu.

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